Wellington, Jan 15 NZPA - The New Zealand sharemarket eased today mostly due to profit-taking in leading shares.
The downward move gained momentum as the session progressed and also reflected weakness in the Australian sharemarket.
The benchmark NZSX-50 index closed down 20.381 points, or 0.622 percent, at 3257.952, having opened down around 0.72 points. Turnover was worth $70.3 million. There were 36 rises and 49 falls among the 112 stocks traded.
Contact Energy fell 14c to 618 and Fletcher Building fell 13c to 831 and both have a sizeable impact on the index.
"We were expecting the Australian market to open firmer today but it retreated somewhat. Profit-taking is the name of the game at the moment on both the New Zealand and Australian markets," said Grant Williamson, director at Hamilton, Hindin, Greene.
"Investors are just taking profits after a good Christmas and new year run."
There was little corporate news relating to listed companies to trade off today and the profit reporting season in February is awaited. Strategic Finance today flagged an interim loss due to increased provisions.
NZOG was unchanged at 162 after saying the first shipment of light crude will leave Port Taranaki next week.
Shares in the New Zealand Refining Co closed up 3c at 376 and traded as high as 387 as they continued to recover from a 4-1/2-year low touched earlier this month.
Telecom gained 1c to 251.
The dual-listed banks reflected the weak Australian market with ANZ down 67c at 2772 and Westpac down 49c at 3146.
Australian-listed Spotless Group confirmed it will start trading on the New Zealand market on Monday after taking over Taylors Group but brokers do not expect there to be very much liquidity in the stock in this market.
Cavalier fell 15c to 270 and SkyCity fell 2c to 332.
Port of Tauranga fell 4c to 710 and APN fell 3c to 295 on light volume.
Methven rose 10c to 179, Tourism Holdings rose 2c to 100, Pike River Coal rose 3c to 102 and Hellaby rose 3c to 168.
Fisher and Paykel Appliances was unchanged at 63 and the Healthcare stock rose 4c to 338.
Air NZ rose 1c to 118, after US-based airline industry magazine Air Transport World named the company as its airline of the year.
In the United States, technology shares lifted the market as investors bet business spending will bolster profits in the sector.
The rise in technology is "an indication that investors see business spending, not consumer spending, fuelling further growth to bring us out of" recession, said Burt White, managing director and chief investment officer at LPL Financial in Boston.
The Dow Jones industrial average added 0.3 percent to 10,710.55, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.2 percent to 1148.46, and the Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.4 percent to 2316.74.
The market rose despite an unexpected drop in December US retail sales and an increase in new jobless claims last week that topped estimates.
"The market was able to shrug off the data because as long as news is bad, government stimulus will keep coming," said Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist at ChannelCapitalResearch.com in Shrewsbury, New Jersey.
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